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Interview with Marek Lazor

Interview with Marek Lazor
Martin Svitek, 9.2.2014 – As I first visited Taekwon-do event many years ago, Marek Lazor (IV. Dan, chief of tkd school Il-Dong Ostrava) already played some important role in Czech Taekwon-Do federation. For many years I did not understand his role (what I still probably don´t), but as years passed and I had opportunity to speak with him few times, train under him and see him during some official meetings of Czech Taekwon-do federation I found out that he is person who don´t need to be seen to much, but has huge amount of work fom Czech Taekwon-do behind him, great knowledge of Taekwon-do and delicate personality with power to discuss without anger and to bring people together than to create conflict. As I was interested about his opinions and personal experiences I decided to share them with you as I believe Marek is one of these instructors that are not well-known internationally, but are making Taekwon-do as it should be – martial way of bringing people together.

1) Marek, how it was that Taekwon-do appeared in you life and in city of Ostrava? I know history of Taekwon-do in Prague through GM Hwang, in South Bohemia through instructors from former Yugoslavia, but I do not know nothing about history of our art in Moravia.

Taekwon-do appeared in Moravia about 3 or 4 years later than in Bohemia. And it was spontaneous activity on few places in same time. First dojangs in Moravia are connected with names Pavel Cigáň (South Moravia) and Pavel Gilík (North Moravia – Opava and Frýdek Místek) - first moravian students of GM Hwang. But Taekwon-do in Ostrava is bound to Mozamel Hamidi.

Mozamel Hamidi was student from Afganistan, whom I met in summer of 1991. It was on summer brigade-work on hop-gardens in Hněvotín near Olomouc. I was chief brigade-worker and Mozamel came to me aking if there is any place to practice. I asked what exactlyn he wants to practice and despite of fact I was not able to repeat name of it I understood it is kind of martial art.

I got interested deeply, as I was active member of karate school in Ostrava and offered him training on local soccer ground. I came to training in my kimono which I brought everywhere at that times. But Mozamel.....Mozamel came in yellow "kind of kimono" with red belt. In karate, 10.Dan holders had red-white belts so I was breathlessly curious what Dan does he have. My nervousness vanished as we started training. Mozamel asked me to show something. So performed one of karate kicks. Mozamel repeated it in three flying variations. And he was able to do it with most of my kicks...

So this training meant end of my karate career, with strong determination to learn what Mozamel is practicing. So I became his first student. I had promised him to find a place to practice and to take care of advertising so he would not have to brigade-work anymore. In return he promised to teach us korean Taekwon-do.

First demonstration took place in VSB TU Ostrava January 14, 1992. Recruitment of new students was after it. Approximatelly 100 people came to watch it and approximately 100 people wanted to practice. Mozamel knew that our gymnasium is big enough for about 80, so we told the rest 20 to came after 3 months. And most of them really came after these 3 months....that was how it worked in 1992....

2) And for how long had Mr. Hamidi taught you?

I was trained by Mozamel for a bit more than 2 years. As long as I was only a student I felt fine, but Mozamel later started to pursue commercial goals. Earning money through teaching of martial art is not bad at itself, but Mozamel focused on it too much, in my opinion. Even we, his first students, were leading trainings despite our lack of knowledge and skills. With function of manager in our Taekwon-do club and our different views on how to lead it we agreed that it would be better for me to leave. And I did so on spring of 1994.

But I wanted to continue in my Taekwon-do training. There were more people with same opinions as I so we agreed on forming a new club with me responsible for its organization. That was beginning of IL-DONG Ostrava history. We will celebrate 20 years anniversary this year.

3) Were always your ambitions in Taekwon-do to teach? Or why did you start at all?

In nowadays reality it is hard to imagine what martial arts boom appeared in Czech republic after 1989. Before this time martial arts were unavailable for most people and also with strange rumours around them. But then movies like chinese Betrayal and revenge or korean Avenger with flute (I am not able to find english title - translator) came to our cinemas. So I felt it natural to study some mysterious martial art.

So I started karate in TJ Baník Ostrava as it was close to where I lived. Later as I met Mozamel I was sure that it is what I saw in the movies and what I want to become skillful in. So my ambitions to teach were at zero, I just pursued the goal of achieving as much knowledge and skill as possible.

4) I have to ask. After 22 years, do you feel you´ve achieved your goal from the past?

To be honest, I was 100% student just for first two years and I am deeply thankful for it to Mozamel. Then I was also partly trainer, organizer, chief of school and later also Czech Taekwon-Do federation offical.

Despite of all this, my primary goal was to enjoy my Taekwon-do path what I really did for many years when Taekwon-do was one of my top priorities. Finally I got from it much more than I expected a hoped for. My first goal was to achieve black belt as probably for everyone. And I was not able to see beyond that. As time went I bacame international instructor, learnt plenty of techniques, travelled part of the World through Taekwon-do, met formally and informally founder of Taekwon-do General Choi and get to know plenty of his students from all over the World. I also met my wife Jana through our art. I was also in position to influence directions of Taekwon-do in Czech republic, although my opinions often were not compatible with opinions of others.

What stays the same after 22 years is that I want to have fun through Taekwon-Do. However I have 3 or 4 higher priorities now and I know it will stay this way also in future.

5) Il-Dong Ostrava had plenty of succesful national team members through its history, but I still feel competitions are not your main goal. How would you describe focus of your school?

As you make me think about it I feel like our school had copied my personal wishes at least a bit. There were huge recruitments at the beginning and also few talents came. Also as we are talking about time without internet, cell phones and with just two TV programmes available there were much more time to train. We had 2 or 3 organized trainings each week and we always met for another individual training and run and exercised and read martial art literature. So there were talented people with lot of training behind them.

As we got to know other Taekwon-do school in Czech republic, it was natural for another phase to come. We wanted to know whose technique is better, so we started to appear on many tournaments and also began to organize our competitions. And as we wanted to succeed we trained even more. Two of our members, Přemysl Štola and Martin Krejčí, became part of national team and succeeded on Junior World Championship what made all of us happy with feeling that our effort is worth of all the that time.

My point of view is different after 20 years. I want my students to improve their health, enjoy training and time with their Taekwon-do friends. As I feel human life may be considered pretty long I don´t want to waste health by excessive training. And every sport on high level means excessive training. I am trying to create athmosphere of friendship, fun and knowing that you may stop your training if you feel so, but also start again after years of break. I am not against competition, everyone is allowed to compete, but I don´t consider it as imporant as years before.

I do understand that sport part of Taekwon-do is huge motive force in present, but it also brings negative effects which are against ideas of General Choi that Taekwon-Do should connects people. That is why we always tried to organize activities that brings people together. For example Summer camp with GM Hwang or regional seminars have their roots in our activities.

6) Oh it is so easy to forget. It is truth that first and second Summer camp with Master Hwang took place in Ostrava, probably organized by you. I remember me being 1.kup standing in last row and respectfully watching others how well they practiced. Do you believe that we focus on these activities (that get people together not only physically) enough nowadays?

I hope that people will undestand me well as I may sound a bit critical. There are lot of these activities in present. We have local, regional, national and international seminars in our country. Summer camp is still alive. There were also first experiment with trainers and instructors weekend last year.

What brings sadness to me is motivation that connects lot of students participating in such events. Many of us are motivated just by criteria and neccesity to participate to be allowed to promote to higher belt, get trainers licence, to fulfill part of national team contract etc. We want to have huge national seminar so we make it part of National team event and make it obligatory to whole national team. My point of view is that this attitude to organization kills passion and melts it into duties. I am thinking about rebirth of original summer camps only for

higher black belts, where people would come because they want to be together without other intentions. No attendance, no duty, just friendly meeting with sharing of Taekwon-do and general life experiences. Maybe I will have strenght to organize it or maybe I will inspire someone else ....

7) You do practice Taekwon-do for more than two decades. How did your training looked like at the beginning and how does it look like now after many years of practice, teaching, organizing work for whole federation, birth of your son...?

You put nice question and you probably forsee my answer. I wrote about past training few sentences before. It was more intensive, nearly everyday training. We got motivation from seeing anoyone on higher level then we were and thankfully remember everyone who taught us - for example Vláďa Machota and Radka Dlouhá, Kubín brothers, korean instructors Yun Nam Gyu, Son Song Gun, Ho Dae Sik, Han Dok San and especially Hwang Ho Yong.

Great motivation not only for physical training were my two opportunities to meet founder of Taekwon-do General Choi Hong Hi. Especially second seminar in Třeboň when I also saw him from "the other" side influenced my deeply.

Creation of different ITF fractions after General Choi´s passing changed my thinking about present Taekwon-do. To be sincere I am still not reconciled with it because Taekwon-do students should bear General´s ideas in mind and not to go against them.

Nowadays I spend most of my Taekwon-do time as teacher with goal to get student interested. I became teacher of fundamental training and that is probably what I will also stay in future.

8 ) What do you mean by seeing General from "the other" side?

In June 1999, as Czech Taekwon-do federation official I had opportunity not only to take part in international seminar with General Choi, but also to take part in informal programme with pig roasting what meant fro me and few others to spent with him afternoon and evening.

I believe General Choi was living embodiment of Taekwon-do tenets. Some thought it is expression of unreal idealism of General, but from that day I believe in teaching tenets not by words, but by actions.

Despite of fact that he was great figure with powerful personality, there is one thing I also felt too idealistic. It was his belief that through power of his personality and through popularity of Taekwon-do he will be able to unite Korean peninsula.

9) What ideas of General Choi do we go against?

My point is that till General´s death in June 15, 2002 we were one big family all over the World. Whenever you travelled and there were ITF dojang you had friends. One of Taekwon-do main goals is to unite people without difference and creating more peaceful World this way.

As General Choi passed away, I believe world Taekwon-do elites were responsible to find one leadership and continue in General´s work. My opinion is that these elites spent their potential only to promote their "only" solution.

So we have ITF following General´s will that Taekwon-do should be led by Korean people, eventhough it is from North Korea. There is another ITF led by "modern and innovative" people mostly from the the Europe who wanted to change international competitions. And finally there is also ITF led by General´s son Choi Jung Hwa with followers who wanted to practice with founder´s son. And lately more small ITF were created, but it is not necessary to mention them.

Being in this state of things there is another problem. In past there were one ITF and if problem appeared, sides had to find solution, because without it one or both sides often ended their Taekwon-do practice. But nowadays if there is a problem, it is easier to change your affiliation to different ITF. And so even petty problems grows big after years of ignoration.

I am deaply dissapointed by all of this and probably will never make peace with it. I feel it like great failure of Taekwon-do elites. When I visit event of different ITF (for example Polish national championship) I feel some distance between us, despite I know these people from the past and our Taekwon-do still look pretty the same.

10) Do you think it is possible (and advisable) to practice Taekwon-Do till late in life?

I always tell my students that first technique they learn is ap joomok (forefist punch) and the last technique they will be able to perform will be ap joomok. In between they may learn about 3000 techniques, which they will probably forget as time goes by.

So I believe Taekwond-do may be practice for a very long time. If you start very early and supervised but good instructor then it is half the victory :o)

11) So your apjoomok (not only) is still to be afraid of?

I think it is neccesary to be afraid of ap jomook of all our students :o)

But to be serious, I believe Taekwon-do plays different role than in time of its creation. It is interesting way how to improve your cardio, flexibility and strenght and moreover kind of better self-confidence comes with it. If instructed by knowledgeable instructor it does not harm health more than other physical activities.

Thank you very much, Marek.

Martin Svitek, IV. Dan, Sonkal Prague
The website visitor's coments
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chrobi (24.7.2014 – 16:57)
Mezi hromadou dalších bezejmených bojovníku ;o)
Mezi hromadou dalších bezejmených bojovníku ;o)
lukasl (23.7.2014 – 22:12)
Díky, Svíťo. Myšlenka podělit se o takový inspirativní rozhovor je skutečně pěkná. Zvlášť, když to není první rozhovor s osobností českého TKD, který tu od tebe čtu. Jednou budeš zapsán v taekwondistickém nebi. ;)
Díky, Svíťo. Myšlenka podělit se o takový inspirativní rozhovor je skutečně pěkná. Zvlášť, když to není první rozhovor s osobností českého TKD, který tu od tebe čtu. Jednou budeš zapsán v taekwondistickém nebi.
mirek (12.2.2014 – 11:34)
snablik (10.2.2014 – 10:29)
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